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Erik Jeppesen

Does the responses of Vallisneria natans (Lour.) Hara to high nitrogen loading differ between the summer high-growth season and the low-growth season?

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  • Qing Yu, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Hai Jun Wang, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Hong-Zhu Wang, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Yan Li, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Xiao-Min Liang, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • ,
  • Chi Xu, Nanjing University
  • ,
  • Erik Jeppesen

Loss of submersed macrophytes is a world-wide phenomenon occurring when shallow lakes become eutrophic due to excess nutrient loading. In addition to the well-known effect of phosphorus, nitrogen as a trigger of macrophyte decline has received increasing attention. The precise impact of high nitrogen concentrations is debated, and the role of different candidate factors may well change over the season. In this study, we conducted experiments with Vallisneria natans during the growing season (June–September) in 10 ponds subjected to substantial differences in nitrogen loading (five targeted total nitrogen concentrations: control, 2, 10, 20, and 100 mg L− 1) and compared the results with those obtained in our earlier published study from the low-growth season (December–April). Like in the low-growth season, growth of V. natans in summer declined with increasing ammonium (NH4) concentrations and particularly with increasing phytoplankton chlorophyll a (ChlaPhyt). Accordingly, we propose that shading by phytoplankton might be of key importance for macrophyte decline, affecting also periphyton growth as periphyton chlorophyll a (ChlaPeri) decreased with increasing ChlaPhyt. Free amino acid contents (FAA) of plants tended to increase with increasing NH4 concentrations, while the relationships between FAA with growth indices were all weak, suggesting that FAA might be a useful indicator of the physiological stress of the plants but not of macrophyte growth. Taken together, the results from the two seasons indicate that although a combination of high nitrogen concentrations (ammonium) and shading by phytoplankton may cause severe stress on macrophytes, active growth in the growing season enabled them to partly overcome the stress.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)1513-1521
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Ammonium, Free amino acid, Periphyton, Phytoplankton, Seasonality, Submersed macrophytes

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